Virginia Powell, a primary school teacher from Sharjah says she has absolutely no time to exercise due to her busy day and by the time the weekend rolls around, she just wants to relax and enjoy the two days with her husband and kids. “I have been advised by the doctor that I need to lose about five kilos but just have no time to pack in any form of exercise during my busy day. I am wake up at 4:30 am to get lunchboxes and breakfast prepared and then by 6:15 am, the school transport comes to collect me; and we only arrive back in the evening. After that I sit with my kids and help them with homework and studies and then later on we have dinner. How can I find the time to fit in exercise in such a busy and hectic day?” she asks.
Sounds familiar and probably most of us can claim a day as busy as Virginia’s, if not even more. In fact, the most often quoted excuse for not exercising is indeed lack of time. However the stark reality is that most of us are not partaking in regular exercise as part of a healthy and balanced lifestyle irrespective of the daunting fact that the rates for diabetes, obesity and hypertension are surging globally. While there is ample evidence of the benefits of exercise, statistics reveal that two-thirds of American adults are not physically active on a regular basis and a quarter get virtually no exercise at all. And this is bad news since our sedentary lifestyle is creating a ballooning health risk to our population. The unfortunate reality is that today for many of us, exercise is just not given a high priority in people’s schedules. However, a recent survey by the American Council on Exercise found another surprising result. Nineteen percent of respondents claimed that they were just too out of shape to work out. And if that is not bad enough, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that physical inactivity causes 1.9 million deaths a year worldwide, including 10 to 16 percent of breast cancer, colon cases and diabetes cases and about 22 percent of coronary heart disease cases.
The following exercises can be done at home or in your office cubicle in hardly any time but should be followed regularly and with diligence.
The Calf Raise
Jane Head, Advanced Personal Trainer, Core Conditioning Specialist and a Fitness Nutritional Coach explains this simple exercise: “Use the bottom step of the staircase. Keep your feet straight and about 4 inches apart. Stand with your heel over the edge of the step, you can lightly hold the banister for balance. Drop your heel down and then go up onto your toes, repeat this 30 times. Then turn your toes out with your heels touching and repeat this also 30 times. Lastly, turn your toes in and your heels out and do it again.”
The Side Leg Pulse
Stand straight with your legs hip width apart, instructs Head. “Dip your pelvis forwards slightly and turn your right foot inwards,” she says then move your leg out to the side, without sticking your bottom out. “Now, keeping your leg in a straight line, tighten your muscles and pulse your leg in small outward movements, count slowly to 50 and repeat on the other leg,” she says.
Sliding One Leg Squat
Head instructs to stand straight and tall, keep your head lifted and your shoulders back, but relaxed. “Now keep your hips level and proceed to move your right leg behind you with your toe pointed and slowly move it to the left whilst bending the left leg, as if you are curtsying,” she says. “Keep your left knee behind your toes and your tummy tight at all times.” Repeat these slowly building up to 50 repetitions. If you are strong enough, Head advises that you can keep your right foot off the floor as you squat. “Now repeat on the other leg,” she says.
The Tricep Tightener
This is another simple, yet effective exercise which Head explains: “Stand straight and bring both arms out to the side, level with your shoulders, palms facing down. Turn your hands backwards so that your palms now face the ceiling, slowly bring your hands towards each other behind your back and pulse them inwards as if you are trying to link thumbs, count slowly to 100.”
Push ups are again making a comeback because they are effective yet simple. According to Magdalena Lyle, a Certified Master Trainer and Strength and Conditioning Coach, do 12 repetitions of Push Ups, either on the knees, standing and hands on wall or standing behind a chair. “Complete the routine three to four times with no rest in between,” says Lyle.
Deep Jump Squats
The following is an exercise that can be done literally anywhere at any time. “Place your hands in front of you and touch the ground for 30 seconds,” says Lyle.